London — French tire manufacturer Michelin announced its half-year results July 27, and said it expects automotive and light truck tire demand to decline 15%-20% in 2020 as coronavirus looks set to continue to weigh on the global economy.
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The company said in its earnings release that tire demand was "vulnerable to a high risk of a major recession" with the original equipment business set to experience bigger declines than replacement.
However, Michelin said some bright signs were seen despite fragility "led by China's recovery and the effect of government incentives."
Q2 saw car and light truck original equipment decline 62% in Europe and 70% in North America, compared with 30% and 33%, respectively, for the replacement sector. April was highlighted as the worst month for demand with original equipment sales falling 94% in Europe and 99% in North America amid the widespread closure of carmaker plants.
The company said car tire sales on the whole fell 24% during the first half, with truck tire sales down 18%.
The company noted varying impacts on different regions, with Chinese car tire sales falling 68% in February, and North American car tire sales recording their biggest fall in April at 61%. The fall in truck tire sales was less pronounced, particularly in Europe and North America.
The specialty business helped offset the declines in the automotive sector with sales here declining a more modest 14% with the company noting strong margins being retained. The specialty sector includes conveyor belt, two-wheel, mining and agriculture applications.
The company said that the two-wheel sector was "lifted by its image as a safe form of transportation amid the health crisis" but that aircraft tire demand experienced a significant collapse.
H1 sales fell 20.6% year on year to Eur9.414 billion ($11.07 billion), with Michelin making an H1 profit of Eur310 million.